Archives for category: women

It can be a bit of work, support loved ones through difficult times. I remind myself that the circumstances change, but the humanity remains; we need each other.

We don’t need a lot of complicated drama and bullshit – but being human, we also, sometimes, don’t recognize where our choices may lead, before we get there. Once we’re there, we may have been slowly inoculated over time to the point where although it is obvious to a great many other people, we don’t see what a mess we’re in – or what a mess we’re making – nor how it affects other valued relationships.

If that’s what you’re waking up to this morning, you have my sympathy. I’m sorry that’s the situation – an expression of pure regret, without any personal involvement. Drama sucks unless it’s on a stage (even then, sometimes it still manages to suck; not all performances are equal). Here’s something majorly cool, though; you have choices. Seriously.

…so many choices…

The path (and practice) of non-attachment is a huge win for fighting drama demons. There are verbs involved, of course. Choices. But the simple (seriously simple) choice not to engage the trolls in our social network is incredibly effective. The choice to let go of whatever we’re attached to that is being used against us can be a radical move in the direction of freedom. Although it feels incredibly costly, often we can more quickly and easily move on from a negative experience, or toxic relationship, if we can make peace with the perceived “losses” that result from doing so. Bonus; few things aggravate a hate-filled troll more than being of no consequence whatever. lol So… there’s that.

It’s easy to recommend. It’s harder to put into practice. We’re so easily baited. We’re so heavily invested. We’re so reluctant to be fully aware that our emotions show up for every appointment before our reasoning thinking mind can even find a parking space nearby. lol I said it. The balance between emotion and reason tends to rest on an understanding that emotion is more immediate, more reactive, and less easily argued with – even internally. We tend to “believe” our emotions, even in the face of contradicting data. It’s both a strength and a weakness.

On the other side of the equation, if you are invested in your righteous rage, and lashing out while justifying your shitty behavior with smug observations of how “right” you are… maybe… just maybe… You’re not actually the good guy in this little scene? Think that one over. If your decision-making is more about the effect the outcome will have on another person – most especially if that outcome is intended to be difficult, painful, awkward, challenging, or “deserved” – you are definitely not living up to any aspirations you may hold about being a good human being. Just saying. You can do better. Don’t be one of the bad guys. Yep, even if the person with whom you have developed this drama “deserves”… whatever you think you’re so right about. That’s your opinion, based firmly in the context of your personal narrative, most of which you made up in your head. Leave room to be human. To be wrong. To do better. To be the good guy.

Or not… It’s your call, I guess. I’m just saying, stooping to bad behavior merely because you feel hurt by someone else’s words or actions, is… fairly stupid and short-sighted, and generally also quite counter-productive.

Here’s a flower. Let that shit go. Begin again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There should always be time for beauty. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning. I scrolled through my news feeds, and at the end of it found myself feeling a bit let down with humanity, with my own relative powerlessness in the face of the world generally, with the drama and bullshit that we allow to impede our forward progress as creatures… We could do better. I mean, obviously. lol Hell of a start to a lovely Saturday.

I push my seat back, and carry my coffee to the deck, and enjoy the rustling leaves, birdsong, the smell of freshly watered plants, the sweetness of a newly ripe tomato fresh from the vine, and a few healthy moments of other thoughts and experiences than the embrace of an office chair, and the bright white pipeline of infotainment shoved directly into my brain through my eye holes. I get way too much of that, and too little of small brown birds daring to come closer to see if maybe I have another seed hidden in my hand. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I came back in, I sat right down at my desk, and let the excess of words and pictures continue to stream into my brain. Damn it.

I get up. Again. I breathe. I do some yoga. Somewhere amidst this second flurry of activity, I have a second coffee that I’ve already forgotten now. Some mindfulness. (That’s sarcasm there.) I nag at myself about my baggage. I pause to feel annoyed with myself for nagging myself, instead of simply practicing.

I let that go, too.

I find myself, at some point, wondering about how I create the baggage I carry in life. I mean… some is picked up in some moment of trauma, sure, but what counts? Does it need to be major trauma? (You already know the answer, if you are honest with yourself; it could potentially be the most petty irritation, if allowed to fester.) I mean… hell… I even have baggage about this. Right here. Blogging. No kidding – did you not know? lol (“Do tell!”ย  “Okay, I will…”)

In December 2012, sometime, during a terribly dark time in my emotional life (one of the worst, darkest, most despairing times of my life had begun, and I was very much at risk of not making it to the other side) I began to consider starting a blog. I had mostly given up writing in a journal – a life habit of many years, that I’d found huge value in, but which had become a ruminating spiral of negativity that developed a fairly self-hateful feedback loop that supported the despair more than the woman writing about it. The saner choice, then, had been to just give it up, for at least awhile. I lost an important voice in my narrative in doing so, and I needed… something. A blog? Maybe; I’d be writing in a public place, read by anyone who cares to read my writing, which, I felt, had a chance of keeping me from falling to the demons of rumination and negativity, and maybe give me some purpose and focus,ย  a foundation on which I could… maybe… heal. Or at least feel heard.

I approached one of my partners (now an ex) at the time and brought the subject up. I viewed her as being “more internet savvy” than I was myself, and I knew she also had a blog. I suggested I was considering writing a blog, myself, and asked her for suggestions or recommendations for platforms. What I got back was… a hearty helping of ego and discouragement. “Oh, well, you shouldn’t expect anyone will read it, and you most likely just won’t keep up with it, and you’ll probably just abandon it. Most people are very bad writers, and don’t have anything interesting to write about. You should expect that you’ll get bored with the work of keeping it up. I have several followers and a very successful blog because people love my writing. It probably won’t be that way for you, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if it turns out no one cares and you’re wasting your time.” I felt astonished, first that she’d assume anything about my writing, when she’d never taken any interest in it, and also that she had no awareness that I’d been making a practice, my entire adult life almost continuously, of writing 500-3,000 words a day – entirely without a fucking blog. LOL I also felt hurt by the dismissiveness and lack of emotional support, particularly so early in our relationship (there was much about her, as a human being, I did not yet know).

…Then the insecurity kicked in. Maybe I’m not “good enough”? Maybe I lack worthy content? Maybe no one does care – at all? Maybe I am “wasting my time”? I almost didn’t start. I almost gave up writing entirely. A few more days of systematic discouragement at a difficult time in my life, and I even started considering ending it. My life, I mean. It was a dark time, indeed. Then I read her blog – looking for a clearer understanding; maybe it was “too hard” for me? (Clearly not.) I didn’t really know, and I wanted to understand more clearly what limitations I was truly facing as an individual. I read a bunch more blogs by great thinkers and writers, because it was immediately evident that little was to be gained reading hers. I looked over various platforms that support blogging. I asked myself what I wanted to say – and what mattered most about my writing, generally. Let’s be very real about this; I was attempting to do this while also wholly disrupted by mental illness, and family-life stress. I was in no shape to adult without supervision. I still needed to do my own homework; unavoidably, the advice of other people is shaped by their agenda and biases, and filtered through their own bullshit. It has limited value. Ever.

I’m smiling this morning as I sip my coffee. I value my time writing. I appreciate my readers (hey, that’s you!). Six and a half years and 1625 posts later (not quite one every day), and I’m still writing, still finding value in that practice, and still feeling heard. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad I didn’t let one voice of discouragement stop me from being the woman I most want to be… or the woman I am. ๐Ÿ˜€

Baggage is a funny thing. It lingers. I did pick up some baggage that long ago winter afternoon, talking about blogging; I occasionally still question my writing. It’s fairly public. There are some things, perhaps, that would be best unsaid? Should I mention my weekend plans? What if someone might use that to burglarize my house by noting when I am likely to be away? Should I mention when I am happy? Someone who has an agenda of minimizing my happiness may use that to undermine it… What about… her? Yep. Sometimes, even now, I consider the considerable drama, bullshit, and emotional pain she continues to inflict on friends and loved ones at personally inconvenient moments, and I can’t help but wonder… did my writing drive the timing? Am I feeding information to a human being who now places me in her world as an adversary?

…Should I stop writing??

More baggage. I laugh it off, and remind myself that she has no power over me that I don’t give her, myself, and no current place in my life, now, at all. Like any bad memory, or former association ended with cause, there’s no real need to revisit that time, place, or person, other than to heal myself. Certainly no reason to give it power over me now. lol

Consequences (of our words, or our actions) are real things, though, and I do consider the consequences of my writing; I spend far longer reviewing a finished post, and refining my words, than I do writing it in the first place. Consequences matter. People’s hearts matter. Being authentic, practical, and frank, matter. Being a better person today than I was yesterday matters. Sometimes I delete whole posts rather than publish something that might cause a stranger undue pain, or “out” someone’s private experience without explicit approval. or even just fall short of adequately expressing my thoughts in a true-to-self way.

What I’m getting at, I guess, is “do you” – support yourself in your endeavors. Don’t let “the world” slow you down or change your mind – but be prepared to face the consequences of your choices (good and bad), and consider them with care. Choose wisely. Be your best self… but do be you. No one else can do it so well, although a few bad sorts may try to steal your identity, your words, your very soul – authenticity can’t be faked, and over time, those stolen facades break down, revealing the real person beneath the lies. Walk on from that drama. ๐Ÿ™‚ No direct confrontation can be sufficiently satisfying to make the fuss worth it. lol Life is too short to leave the trolls in charge. ๐Ÿ˜€

Bottom line? We really do choose – and carefully craft – most of our baggage in life. It’s okay to put that down, and walk on. Let it go. Just… let it go. Move on with life without it. It can be a choice… if we care to choose it. Yes – sorry – there are verbs involved. It may require some practice. You may have to begin again – any number of times. Still worth it.

It’s time to begin again.ย I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning, smiling, and content. I am enjoying the morning with the woman in the mirror – she’s a survivor, a bad-ass, and this morning? There is no other woman I would want to be more. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, Monday comes around too soon after a busy weekend. The down-and-back to visit with friends and with my Traveling Partner was… interesting. Worth doing. Strange. In some moments just flat-out weird as the evening developed.ย  Good party. Good weekend. Weird vibe.

Mental illness doesn’t play nicely – with its victims, or with their loved ones. Let’s note that this is a true thing, and then set that aside.

I never actually slept on Saturday night. It was a huge effort for my Traveling Partner and I to get even an hour together to chill and hang out. It wasn’t the party that kept him busy, it was the on-again-off-again intensifying spiral of OPD generated by his other partner’s mental health challenges more often than not, but also just real-life hosting-a-party crap that comes up over a weekend (“hey, is there more water?”, “hey, I cut myself – where are the band aids?”, “hey, where can I park?”, “hey, what’s the wi-fi password?”, “hey, is the party in the house,too, or just outside?”). We finally got a few minutes together to cuddle, to catch up, to talk… in seconds he was fast asleep in my arms. I haven’t spent such a lovely night in a long while, meditating, relaxed, content, cuddled up with my Traveling Partner for a couple hours. I couldn’t sleep. I knew there would be that risk when I went down; I don’t feel physically (or emotionally) safe in that location now,so… No sleep. Still, huge improvement for me, inasmuch as I also didn’t continue to feel anxious once I got there, and the hours of the night passed gently in each other’s arms.

I dozed off once (so close). I woke to a knock on the door. I got up very carefully so as not to wake my partner, stumbled through putting my pants on, and went to see if there was something urgent that needed attention (the medical bag was with us). Nope. I went back to bed. Some little while later, we were wakened with more conviction; a neighbor had started a burn on their property in the very early just-at-daybreak time of morning. The party people, in various stages of intoxication, could see the fire…but couldn’t puzzle out whether it was a legitimate hazard, or not, at that distance. (It was unfathomable that people might actually wake up at such an hour and do actual work or life things. LOL) Farm folks are often up quite early, doing actual work. My Traveling Partner takes a look, says something reassuring. We go back to bed. He’s out like a light in minutes. I doze for a few minutes myself, wake again, and get up and dress for the morning; it was time for coffee, for breakfast, and time to hit the road. “No sleep at all” would mean a narrow window of opportunity to safely make the drive home before fatigue set in.

The drive back was pretty uneventful, and generally efficient and pleasant. I got home in a timely fashion, and messaged my Traveling Partner and concerned friends that I was safely home. I didn’t hear anything back for many hours (because… drama). I am okay with having made such a short trip down and back under the circumstances, and enormously pleased with how I feel today. (Untouched by OPD, and largely unaffected by the mental health issues of a metamour I am easily able to maintain adequate distance from). I am okay right now. I was okay Saturday. It was a good weekend, generally. My self-care was on point. ๐Ÿ˜€

There was an interesting moment, conversationally, during the party. Worth taking another look at, but maybe not this morning; it’s not relevant, specifically, to this topic, right here. ๐Ÿ™‚ This morning? I’m getting ready for a new work week; it’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜€

Where will the journey take me? What obstacles are in my path? Are they actually obstacles – or do I just need the gate code?

My gear is packed. I’m rested. The work week is behind me. The weekend is ahead. My anxiety is through the fucking roof, in spite of there being “nothing wrong” in any literal sense; I am facing my inner demons, today, or at least one small cohort of the mocking hateful little bastards, and I am hoping to come through, if not “victorious”, then at least fairly cognizant just how okay I actually am. That’d actually be a pretty spectacularly big deal.

I survived family violence in my childhood home. I survived domestic violence. I survived the Army, and yes, I survived war. I have, actually, survived all of what life has thrown at me so far – even the good stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚ What has lingered are the scars, emotional and physical. The learned limitations. The fears. The background stress of my injured brain insisting something is imminently going to go very very wrong. Scary dangerous wrong. Look out for that hazard right there!! Only… generally? No hazard. PTSD instead.

When things went sideways with my Traveling Partner’s other partner (in poly vernacular, my “metamour”), becoming a mental health crisis of epic proportions, affecting an entire fairly closely associated community, it was also a re-traumatizing event for me. The aftermath was even directly emotionally abusive, specifically targeted to be so, hurtfulness set on “stun”, although the weaponized words and emotions were being launched by a human being fairly obviously not in her right mind at the time, I am human, and I feel. All the feelings. I’ve got my own baggage to carry. Afterward, the easy solution for me has been to just “let all that shit go” and walk on. I do not need (or want) that kind of bullshit in my life, and I have learned to turn away from it.

Not all of life’s decisions are mine to make. Funny how that works. I get to make mine, and I have learned to respect, value, and insist upon my agency. It’s precious to me. On the other hand, I’m not strolling through life utterly alone, here; other people have their lives, too, and their own decisions to make, and they so do make them. I live with those decisions, as well as my own, because we’re all in this together. lol One such decision is to have a birthday party at the very location where “all the bad shit went down”, some weeks after the fact, and almost-but-not-quite as if nothing untoward or unpleasant had even been a thing. Weird. I have trouble wrapping my head around that. Inviting me into that environment seems a tad disrespectful, or even callous, although more likely it is merely ignorant of the potential impact to me, or even more likely still, I am highly regarded, desired good company – which may matter more to all of the non-me people involved. lol I got invited.ย  …And… I’m an adult, right? My friends are adults, too. We are each having our own experience. Mine says ‘do not walk, run, get as fucking far away from that shit, as far as possible, because you do not want to be there when that mad bitch burns her fucking house down’… but… really? Well. I don’t know, do I? Mental health challenges being what they are, and love being what it is, people do make a fairly wide range of choices when loved ones lose their shit in one flavor of mental health crisis or another. People don’t always turn entirely away. I still don’t get it, myself, at this point in life; I’ve stopped taking abuse. Protestations of love are not enough to keep me in an abusive relationship. That’s non-negotiable…but…

…What’s a “safe distance”? In this instance, specifically, when there is no clear certain threat to me personally of any notable sort, what then? So… I’m doing something occasionally suggested in therapy, and utterly resisted by me. Exposure. Facing my fears, in real life. Making the choice to visit friends, and have a good time, in a physical location that causes me a fuck ton of anxiety and stress… for no obvious reason in this moment (the stress I mean; hanging out with friends does not need reasons, and every moment is a good one for hanging out with friends). This could be a very healing thing for me. It’s fucking hard as hell, though, and I find myself dithering a bit as I prepare to leave for the weekend away. It’s just an overnight, down and back, and a chance to look over some real estate on the way back. This? This is an experience to have.

There are verbs involved. Self-soothing. Taking time out to regain perspective. Practices to practice. This? It’s a test. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m content if I get a “C”… I would like to pass it, though. lol I take a deep breath and relax. I’m aware of the physical pain I am in – and the potential that some measure of that pain is directly related to my emotional well-being in some way. Another breath. I let my shoulders slide back down where they belong. I am okay, right now. The road beyond the driveway is quiet. It’s a good time to get started on this journey.

I am my own cartographer. My choices are my own. I walk my own hard mile. My results may vary; and I have choices. I become what I practice. The woman in the mirror smiles back at me. We’re in this together.

It’s time to begin again.

I called out again today, like, properly. Working yesterday was a bit ambitious, and I wasn’t really as up to it as I thought I would be. I talked myself into it anyway, because… work. It’s an American thing; we over-value jobs, and grossly under-value self-care. Before the work day ended, it was clear I wasn’t up to another.

After the work day ended, I took time to re-calibrate my actions to my intention; the intention being to “get well”, clearly my actions need to be other-than-work-related. I took time to have a healthy meal (soup, a small salad), more tea (and more after that), and treated my symptoms as skillfully as I know how. Then I went back to bed. Other than getting up fairly regularly to sip tea, drink water, deal with my sinuses, or to pee, I slept for the next 17 hours, in spite of the whistling and percolating noises of my breathing. I won’t be out of bed much today, I’m feeling woozy and fatigued just from the effort of standing, and making morning coffee. (I definitely don’t want to add that headache to my afternoon!)

I could have chosen differently – and I almost did. It can be hard to choose self-care. I fight myself for the choice to take better care of me, every time I’m sick. I’m not fighting my boss, or my partner, or anyone else, though – I’m fighting myself, and the remnants of self-abusive programming that lingers after a lifetime of exploitative messaging about the necessity of obligating oneself to an employer, and abusive messaging conveying an aversion to being “weak”. It sucks that we are so prone to treating ourselves poorly. All of that is built on our choices.

I sit sipping my coffee disinterestedly. It is less than ideally palatable, and I am disengaged and feeling ill. It’s hard to care about anything much, just at the moment. There are choices there, too. I will soon choose to go back to bed. ๐Ÿ™‚

I find myself thinking about self-care and how we fail ourselves in our relationships through choices not to care for ourselves skillfully. I think about how often in past relationships I made choices to “let that shit go” when I would have served myself well to speak up promptly; failing to speak up for my needs or interests in the moment often seemed the fastest route to keeping things chill – but the explosive loss of temper down the road, when I finally could no longer bear to undermine my own needs didn’t serve me so well, and didn’t treat others well, either. I could have done better. Failing to test my assumptions, I could so easily be hurt by real life simply being what it was – because I was clinging to a very different vision, and inevitably, there would be conflict when reality finally forced a showdown with my imagination. Holding on to unverified expectations, and allowing a lack ofย Theory of Mind to confound things further, I could destroy a beautiful moment so easily by being intensely upset that life did not unfold as I expected it would. These are all such commonplace things to “get wrong” that whole lives are built on these flawed models of relating to others, without any notable challenges in spite of how fucking crazy that actually is.

Some relevant seeming notes, that sort of summarize some things I’ve learned along the way, because now I’m just tired and ready to go back to bed:

  • We don’t know what we don’t know – and can’t.ย 
  • We are each having our own experience; what is “obvious” to me, may not be obvious to another at all.
  • There is no requirement (or legitimate potential) for others to “make us happy”, however lovely it is that we are happy in the company of another; our happiness is our own to find, build, and sustain.
  • We “aren’t all that” – count on it – somewhere, someone is tired of our bullshit. We can do better. Every fucking one of us can do better today than we did yesterday.
  • We are perfectly divine, too, and “deserve” to be treated well; paradoxically, we must teach each other what that means to us individually, in every relationship we share.
  • When we are the one who is “always upset” or “always stressed out” in our relationships, we are also the one with the most immediate need to do a better job of caring for ourselves. It’s us, not them.
  • Self-care is not abusive of others, and does not have to come at the cost of treating others well.
  • Boundary-setting is hard. A lot of the very best adulting practices feel that way, and require considerable practice.
  • We can only do our best – and it’s on us, ourselves, to know what that is, and be real about it when we’ve depleted our resources and just can’t do more/better.
  • What we want from our partners and loved ones does not obligate them to provide that to us, however much we want it.
  • All of these bullet points apply equally to them.
  • We are individuals, not property.
  • We are equally obligated to treat others well, as they are obligated to treat us well; not at all. It’s a choice. (Although if we go around treating people badly, it’s not at all realistic to expect to be treated well, just saying.)
  • Some people don’t care the way we care. Sometimes we are the person not caring.
  • A lot of things improve when we listen deeply, instead of waiting for our turn to talk.
  • We can demand change from others until we’ve lost our voices, it is an empty unsatisfying endeavor; change comes because we choose change.
  • Attempting to force others to change is a form of emotional abuse – yes, and even if those changes we so earnestly demand are “good” or “better” or even “ideal”; it’s literally not our decision who that other person chooses to become.
  • Sometimes the wisest choice and best way to care for ourselves is to walk on. The mere fact that we want something to work out is no assurance that it will.
  • We are the cartographers on our own journeys. The map we make is not the world.
  • We can choose change. Any time. Any day. Any relationship. We do this by being the change we wish to see. We do it with our choices.
  • We become what we practice.

Ready? The day ahead is a blank page, and you are the author of your experience. Choose your adventure.